My NSL & BC208-NST Blog

nikki
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Post by nikki » Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:36 am

BJH is right, unless your tubes are beginning to fail, you likely won't notice any change because the degradation is so gradual.

In my case, the tubes would exhibit an obvious problem, ie. noise or flashing. I originally left the 208s on all the time, but the GLs would seldom last more than 4 months. Then Jim McShane told me it was bad practice to leave tubes on all the time. A 3000 hr lifespan is typical for a 6922, which calculates to roughly 4 months @ 24x7. Once I started turning off the 208, I was able to run a set of GLs for over 10 months before they became noisy. But after I installed a brand new set of GLs, used them for about a month (light use) and they started getting noisy. It got to the point that I would feel the anxiety every time I would turn the amps on - game of Russian roulette.

Tubes in preamps are not as stressed and tend to last a longer as well.

In my experience, EH is significantly more durable (and inexpensive) but their sound is not nearly as refined as the GL.

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Double D
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Post by Double D » Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:42 am

I'm going to disagree here.. my experience is that even when the bottles don't exhibit noise, or other physical manifestations, the sound starts becoming "pinched", the bandwidth seems rather curtailed, and the system just doesn't seem to breath as well. :roll:
For me, I've always ended up with the damn things hissing worse than a bag of snakes, so.. that usually ends up being my first cue to look at the calendar, and have my next set ready to go.
I think in my situation with the 303, the PSU is soo massive, that it means it stays up 7/24, :roll: so, the lifespan of tubes is roughly 4 months or so.
I will concur the GL's are sonically the best of the bunch. The EH option works for me, because the SHL5's get a bit of bounce from the EH's sonics.
I can certainly imagine that the CLX would be ravishing with the GL's, and a buddy of mine uses GL's with his BC3000 front ending ML ReQuests.. the benefit of the GL's over the EH is not subtle.

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Thanks!

Post by masluck » Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:15 am

Thanks Gents for your perspectives - much appreciated!! Like I said, 24X7 makes a difference in my system (to me) and I accept the lifespan issues with the 6DJ8/6922/7308 families. That is why I am trying to secure as many sets as I reasonably can. The GL 6922 are nice tubes, but to my ears the Matsushita 7DJ8's have better bass control and extension and the Amperex marry both worlds for me. I will use the GL's to break in the GZpz upgrade Gil But is doing on my 3000 this month, but once that is over - back to the Amperex. Thanks again for the insights!!

Mark

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Post by cedboe » Sat Oct 12, 2013 10:12 am

Hi there,

I'm kind of an alien here, as I'm swiss, and probably the only swiss to have the good old AG3000-8000 combo in house. I should probably let them on 24/7, but I try to reduce my footprint on this earth, then I don't.

Anyway, going back to tubes, I have NOS telefunken in the pre and NOS Siemens in the 8000, and good Lord, that sings ! The problem is their price and availability...I found that the Tube Depot do the Black Sable tubes, anybody tried them here ? I might try these when my NOS ones will be dead, was wondering if they are as good or better than the GL.

I'm still amazed by the way BC gear make music. It's like you become part of the sound when you listen, there is no separation between you and the music. I know the boss of Dartzeel, and I'm testing his integrated right now (still looking to get the same sound with less material...and not too much money), it's really something else: it makes an amazing sound (very fast and clean, great separation), but compared to the AGs, it doesn't make music. And you feel the seperation between the music and you. I get bored...It's not really burned in yet, but I'm not sure it will change that much about that.

Thanks Gilbert to enlight our lives !
Cheers
cedric

masluck
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Brent Jesse - www.audiotubes.com

Post by masluck » Sun Oct 13, 2013 6:00 am

Hi,

Check out www.audiotubes.com - all you could ask for and a wealth of knowledge to boot. Great selection of 6DJ8 varieties and others...

Mark

nikki
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Post by nikki » Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:15 am

Cedboe,

I'd be very curious to hear your impressions of the Darts, but let them break-in properly before doing any "real" listening. You are the first person that I have seen on any forum who would have had a chance to compare Dartzeel to BC gear directly.

I would think that Gilbert's NSL line of amps would be the closest to the Dart flavour, but that's just total speculation on my part.

cedboe
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Post by cedboe » Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:19 am

Thanks masluck for the link, even if I knew about it already.Great but expensive tubes...

So no one has tried the Black Sable tubes ? It's basically hand selected gold EH (low noise and so on) that are then cryogenised. Just wondering if they are better than the GL or not, same price more or less. I will try when I'll need new tubes, if I haven't bought the Dart in between...but for now I keep the AGs.

Nikki, you are right, I should wait a bit before posting opinions, but I kind of know that I'm biased towards tube. Actually, I suppose the Dart is more neutral than the AGs, but for MY taste (this is absolutely subjective) the AGs are more enjoyable to listen to, which I translate into them beying more "alive". I wouldn't go as far as buying Tannoys in the coloration of the sound, but as my speakers (Klinger Favre Studio 15, small family buisiness in les Vosges, France) are very neutral, I need a bit of lush from the amplifiers. Anyway, the Dart still need a few hundred hours to really shine I suppose, will keep you posted !

I don't think I'll be able to listen to the new NSL line for a while, hard to say if they sound like the Dart. I'm a beginner in this hifi world (started in 2009), and playing music and singing my self I have troubles dissecting the sound, I take it more as a whole. I also listen to a very wide variety of music (Herv

Ice Man
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Post by Ice Man » Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:54 am

Hi Nikki,

I was wondering how the 208 NST's sound now, compared to how they sounded with tubes?

Thanks.

IM

nikki
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Post by nikki » Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:15 pm

I assume you're asking if the 208-NST has changed much since my last post about 3 weeks ago? The changes haven't been drastic ... if at all. The mind can play tricks as we get accustomed to something over a period of time. I would probably say that the fine details, micro dynamics have developed some more since my last post, but it is not a night and day difference as I had experienced through the first few hundred hours of break in. My thoughts about the differences between the 208 w/tubes and NST have not changed in any way. Still have no regrets and wouldn't hesitate recommending it to anyone who is considering the mod.

Something else you may consider. I initially asked Gilbert if he could modify the 208 to have both the tube and NST input stage - it would have been user selectable so that you can change between tube and SS through an internal switch. Although technically feasible, my case did not have enough free space to accommodate both input stages. Maybe you have more room in your amp to do something like this? Personally, now that I have lived with the NST, I would seldom switch to the tube stage anyways, but it still would have been a cool feature to impress friends.

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Post by Ice Man » Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:09 am

Thanks, Nikki, for the update. I appreciate you taking the time to write.

Due to my recent upgrade to the BC307 type of design, I now have both SS and four 6922's to play around with. At this point, my sound preferences have shifted more towards the solid state side.

IM

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bobneill
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Switching between SS and tubes

Post by bobneill » Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:38 am

My only problem with this versatility is that it will definitely induce you to pay more attention to sound than music. This the war audiophiles have to fight every day and which they generally lose. At some point, sooner the better, you want your gear to disappear. Get your system to where you want it, then forget the damn thing and let it enable the music to better please you. I understand that some people, especially those who have spent a bundle on their systems, WANT to hear their investment and get frustrated when they longer can. I consider that comic irony: we achieve our goal and find ourselves defeated!

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Post by Ice Man » Mon Oct 21, 2013 9:39 am

While I can see some people having issues with too many choices, I for one, am not. I am glad that Blue Circle has such a vast array of production products, and is constantly striving to create new and better ones. Moreover, I am a devoted Blue Circle owner because of its Custom Shop, and their willingness to entertain and execute my crazy, exotic ideas. Most companies wouldn't think of offering such a department and would consider my questions a major annoyance, to say the least. On the other end of the spectrum, Blue Circle thrives on challenges in order please its customers.

I personally can't fathom what it must be like to achieve your dream system, and be frustrated with the sound. If someone like that does exist, my two cents would be that it might be time to find another hobby.

All I'm saying is that I absolutely love the fact that I have, to some respect, unlimited choices with Blue Circle.

nikki
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Post by nikki » Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:58 pm

Bob,
I agree with what you're saying, but it is also part and parcel of being an audiofool. I don't think I could ever fully stop tinkering, not even talking about audio. Always dreaming about the next thing... unfortunately :oops:

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Double D
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Post by Double D » Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:24 pm

Bob makes a valid point, but like many valid points, the point only becomes relevant in a perfect world, and like many other things, audio reproduction ( or music reproduction if you will.. ) in the home, is filled with landmines.
For many of us, the MUSIC becomes the SOUND (not the other way around.. :oops: ), and because the goal of achieving our own mental perception of what is "perfect sound" to us changes over time, the goal becomes somewhat fluid, never quite coalescing into a solid form.
What is relevant one year, becomes somewhat less so, the next. At one point in time, I was striving for a system that was what I would call, a sonic hologram generator, and pursued the art of a 3d like soundstage at the expense of other more valuable aspects of a performance. Was it MUSIC ?? not really.. but it sure suspended belief for a while ! :P but, like other things that diminished and I moved on. Now I value balance, tone, and timing. Things are perhaps more readily equated to a musical performance, as opposed to "just sound".
So, like Nikki, dreaming about the "next thing" is relevant, because on some level, it pushes us closer to our own - perhaps unrequited - goal of actually hearing the music in a way that makes you finally go "A HA !! That's IT "

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Back to DD

Post by bobneill » Wed Oct 23, 2013 8:46 am

It's the flipping back and forth between tubes and ss in the same amp that I'm really talking about. Hell, we all evolve. My own odyssey is clear proof of that. If I listened to what I like now 10 years ago I'd have gacked.

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